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by Vault Law Editors | May 24, 2023


woman interviewing man

Mock interviews are an important part of recruitment preparation. You are likely able to field standard questions like, “Why did you go to law school?” and “Why our firm?” without much trouble, but it’s harder to anticipate the behavioral, personal, or outright random questions you might also encounter. Each year, in Vault’s Annual Associate Survey, law firm associates share interview questions their firms ask. We’re sharing interview insight from ten top-ranked law firms to help you better prepare for initial and callback interviews:

  • “The bulk of interviews revolve around asking what the interviewee wants to do with their career, what their professional interests are, and what drew them to [this firm].”
  • “They ask substantive questions that you can answer with the prep of a few cases from each class 1L year, and for examples of a time you disagreed with a case outcome you studied in one of your classes. They want to see how your mind works and how you solve problems.”
  • “Standard questions, no major curveballs or gotcha stuff. The tone is usually casual and conversational, with the goal of getting to know your story and personality.”
  • “Candidates should be prepared to demonstrate their sociability, while also offering examples of their professional judgment, critical thinking/analytical ability, and ability to work well on a team.”
  • “It’s a conversation. Once you are in the door for an interview, you have cleared the academic requirements. Think hard about your other interests on your resume because the interview is [meant] to see what you are like outside of grinding in the law school library—can this person, after doing excellent work, connect with a client and foster that relationship?”
  • “There isn't a set list of questions, but they do give recommendations. I typically like to talk to candidates about the experience on their resume and what their goals are for their summer associate position.”
  • “There is a wide range of questions as different interviewers seek to understand different aspects of the candidate. One category of question may have been substantive legal comprehension. An example of a question on this topic is: discuss a topic of law that you struggled to understand in law school.”
  • “I ask every interviewee to provide an example where they unexpectedly had to take ownership of an issue and how they either resolved it or communicated a recommended course of action.”
  • “It is a mix depending on the interviewers meeting with candidates—some are more conversational and some are more formal questions about strengths/weaknesses, resume items, and practice interests.”
  • “My interviews were very conversational. My first interviewer started off by asking ‘So what's your life story? How did you find yourself here?’ I wasn't expecting that, but I appreciated the interest in me as a person.”
  • “Why [this firm]? Why [this office]? How would you describe your practice area? What are some examples of you leading in that practice area? How would you describe your work style? How would you respond to partner criticism? What is your approach to delegating and managing? What culture in a firm are you looking for?”

Use these insights to inform mock interviews with friends or mentors, and feel confident when you sit down at each interview. Find more quotes on hiring policies and interview questions for law firms, including the Vault 100, at each firm's Vault Profile.